What we do for preschool (part 2)

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Since we have moved to Korea, I have paid more attention to when my friends get to go to conferences and conventions. I didn’t do a lot of that when we lived in Norfolk. Probably because I was either working or Clarissa was really young. But I have also discovered online conferences and conventions. Many of them are free!

In May, I spent most of the month listening to speakers from The Online Homeschool Convention while I was making dinner or doing dishes. It was pretty cool to be able to pick and choose what I wanted to listen to. And to be able to turn something off in the middle if I wasn’t really feeling it.

One thing that really resonated with me was just letting kids play when they were small. Let them learn by doing. Make learning fun. You don’t want to ruin school for them when they are small because once you lose your love of learning, it is hard to get it back.

I bought a curriculum to work on with Clarissa when she was four and for a few days, I really struggled with if I was going to do it or not. But she kept asking for school. We started God’s Little Explorers in July. The curriculum has lessons for four days per week. There is a big Bible story, theme, and letter each week. By starting in July, it gives us two weeks to do each theme so we can really take our time and have plenty of time for play.

The first week set a fun foundation to work from. We learned about the letter X. I hid all of our school supplies and put a sticky note with the letter X nearby so she could find them. She had a great time!

Clarissa has been very excited about our Bible stories. She likes that we read them multiple times and from different Bibles (The Jesus Storybook Bible and the Beginner’s Bible). She also likes that there is a theme to the books I get from the library each week. For example, when we learned about the Creation Story, our letter was G for garden so we read books about plants. There is also usually a shape to focus on and some crafts. The part Clarissa is not excited about is writing. She wrote big G just fine, but “didn’t like little g. Can I write s?” When we were talking about A for Adam and Eve, she wanted to do the letter C.

I have decided that I’m not going to push the writing at this point. She just turned four. She doesn’t have to be able to write the alphabet in order to read. So we’re just going to keep going with our curriculum since she likes most of it (and I really like it too). When she wants to write, we will. When we learned about Noah, I was able to get her to do some “rainbow letters” for C. Sometimes she will also trace words if I draw a picture first on the dry erase board.

Another component to this curriculum is learning to help around the house. Clarissa has been pretty good about bringing her dishes to the sink and putting her dirty clothes in the hamper. Since starting this curriculum she has started cutting bananas and cheese, making peanut butter sandwiches, and peeling carrots. She also wants to decorate her own pizza. I recently made a chore chart for Clarissa. She likes moving the magnets when she finishes her chore. She has actually complied with the, “you have to do these chores before you can ___” part also.

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Clarissa gets really excited to do school after dinner. Probably because she walks by where I keep all of her school stuff. So she will just pick out an activity to do. We have several dry erase books to work on letters or numbers. She has matching cards for opposites. We recently learned to play “go fish.”

Another thing I bought for her was a peel and stick dry erase world map from the px. When we read a book or watch something on tv where they talk about another place, we will walk over to the map and look for it. Sometimes the map gets pretty messy with drawings of penguins on Antarctica, Nemo near Australia, or pyramids in Egypt. And sometimes she just scribbles over it. But that’s the beauty of dry erase. And while she’s scribbling, she’s building her hand muscles so she’ll want to write more, in theory anyway…

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They offer both gymnastics and ballet on post, so I was planning to let her pick which one she wanted to do. For most of the summer, ballet was the frontrunner so she could wear her tutu. When it was time to sign up, she changed her mind. She said she wants to take classes when she’s 5. So we’ll wait on that for now. The beauty of military life is that you can register at any point during the year so we don’t have to wait until next fall if she decides she wants to take classes earlier. I did however register her for AWANA. She loves Vacation Bible School so I think she will like AWANA as well.

What we do for preschool (part 1)

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With everyone sharing pictures of the first day of school/preschool the past few weeks, I thought I would share what Clarissa has been doing for preschool.

Clarissa has an August birthday so she will always be one of the youngest in her class. For most of age three, she rarely woke up before 8 AM. Add to that, that I get to be a stay at home mom while we live in Korea. We decided to keep her home for preschool.

At three years old, I feel like it is really important that Clarissa gets to play and be creative. I bought some Usborne sticker books , wipe away books, and flap books to teach colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. We worked on them whenever she asked for “her school books.”

We read a lot of books! She likes to “read” me the stories too. At first, it was the stories that we had read a thousand times so she almost had them memorized anyway. But now she will pick up a book that we have never read before, look at the pictures, and tell me the story. Sometimes she even reads “in her head.” She often asks to go to the library.

Clarissa has a lot of toys that inspire imagination. We inherited a doll house and a play kitchen last year. She also loves to play with legos. She also helped me a lot in the kitchen with counting tablespoons or mixing things in the bowl. Cookie cutters and sprinkles are probably her favorite part of cooking though. For the first half of three she really liked to paint and play with play doh. Then she moved on to making pictures with stickers or by cutting and glueing.

Clarissa loves to go on vacation and to museums. We make sure to hit up the children’s museum and an aquarium or zoo every place we go. Science museums seem to be hit or miss, depending on if there is enough English for us to explain the science to her. But she loves to watch or read Magic School Bus.

At the end of the day, I want her to enjoy learning. She recognizes her letters and numbers to 12. She actually understands what it means to have six bears. I think social development is also a big deal in preschool. Clarissa has  playdates regularly so she is learning to share and play with others. She can follow simple directions.

I did buy a more formal curriculum to do with her while she is four. But even then, I plan to be pretty relaxed and take our time with it.

My four year old thinks she’s a super hero

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It was hard to type that. My four year old. It is hard to believe that Clarissa is 4 years old today. Life has changed so much in four years!

Clarissa is growing into this wonderful little girl. She can be pleasant, kind, and helpful. But at the same time, she is very determined. Let’s just say she’s in the right house because she certainly knows what she wants and is not afraid to voice her opinion. For example, recently she wanted to wear a tutu to the market.

I am learning to enjoy ALL of her and not just the things that make my job easier.

Clarissa is so smart. She can recognize her letters and numbers. We started a preschool curriculum together in July. She enjoys the Bible stories and crafts. She likes the themes for the books and activities. However, she is not very interested in writing or finding letters at this time. When we studied creation, we were working on the letter G. Capital G was just fine but she “didn’t like little g! Can’t we do s?” When we were supposed to do A for studying Adam and Eve, she was adamant that she wanted to do C that week. I think we will continue our stories and crafts and I will just ask her what letter she wants to work on that day.

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Clarissa is also kind of obsessed with The Magic School Bus. She watches the shows on Netflix daily. We have a new book from the library pretty much every time we go. Her favorite book is probably The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body. We have spent several afternoons drawing the inside of the human body. One time she skinned her knee and wanted to know where the platelets were to stop her from bleeding. Any time she sees a red circle, she asks if it is a red blood cell.

Wild Kratts is another favorite. We watch the show and there are a few books at the library. She has a pretty good understanding of the difference between predator and prey.

She still prefers being “make – id” (naked) so there are markedly less photos to show the grandparents. About once a month she will request an Elsa braid for her hair. The rest of the month, I am expressly forbidden to touch her hair.

Clarissa thinks she is very strong. And fast. And that she has powers. Like a super hero. She doesn’t worry about being smashed by a car because “I can put my hand out and stop it.”

She is a ballerina. Ballerinas only wear pink shoes (which is why Grammy had to send some for her birthday).

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Her favorite color is all of them. She has worn the same dress to church six weeks in a row because it has all of her favorite colors on it (red, yellow, teal, and pink).

She often wears rain boots. Even when it is not raining. And she likes to wear dresses and skirts more than shorts. Nail polish is constant. Last week when she was picking out her dress, she wanted to wear some of my jewelry too.

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Clarissa can tell me Bible stories. Sometimes she prays or asks me things about God. She plays with her “Jesus toys” (nativity set and resurrection eggs). But she tells me often that she doesn’t like Jesus. But Vacation Bible School was fun and she wants to go back tomorrow. Before she was born God told me that she would be a little girl with great faith. She still has a few years left of little girldom so I am waiting to see how this plays out.

She probably eats the same handful of foods I posted on her second birthday. But I have given up on being frustrated with that. She takes a multivitamin daily and eats fruit squeezes like they’re going out of style. She eats pepperoni, cheese, or peanut butter daily. So I feel like her diet is well rounded enough. Maybe one day she will eat what we eat for dinner without saying “yuck” and making faces.

Clarissa loves the water and takes at least one bath per day. Most days bathtime is at least 30 minutes long and several days per week she takes more than one bath in a day, just to play in the water.

Clarissa is also very creative. She loves to read books, both with me and by herself. She loves looking at the pictures to make up a story. Lego building happens every day in our house. Stuffed animals are real pets with names and “speak English but Mittens just speaks cat.” She also enjoys painting.

She says some pretty funny things:

She wants to do /not do things “because I do/don’t” (that’s why she likes things too)

If she’s tired while riding her bike she needs to “refuel” (drink water or have a fruit squeeze)

 

She will say something rediculous or made up and when you look at her she will say, “that’s how you say… in Spanish.”

She will ask if someone is Korean or an Englisher

It’s been ten minutes. 12345678910!

That’s “indoorable!” (adorable)

Okay okay okay

I get it!

I’ll help you

Rests for like 30 seconds “okay. Now I have enough enzergy (energy) to walk”

Where’s my bug looking thing? (magnifying glass)

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I’m figurating (thinking. Trying to figure something out)

Sun scream (sun tan lotion)

Fly swapper (fly swatter)

Back pag (she can’t commit to either bookbag or backpack)

I’m excusing (just kidding)

What island does… live on?

It’s so beautiful

Wonderful

I am reading in my head

Mommy. Daddy. Talk in your head! (when she is tired and doesn’t want to hear us talk in the car or living room)

Seriously?!

I’m curious

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Clarissa 3.5

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It is hard to believe that Clarissa is three and a half years old. We have lived in Daegu for two years so she has lived in Korea longer than she has lived in the USA. 

I think it is safe to say that Clarissa is potty trained now. It took almost a full year of trying. But once she decided she wanted to wear panties, it wasn’t that long. 

Clarissa still really enjoys reading. She will ask me to read to her. But she really enjoys “reading” to herself. She does a pretty good job of making up a story to match the pictures. At one point she consistently asked me to teach her how to read for real. But once she realized that it would take a while, she stopped asking. Part of her bedtime routine now includes reading to herself with a lamp for 10 minutes. She almost always is “in the middle” of a book when the timer goes off and has to finish before she turns out her light. 

She is no longer obsessed with going to California. She has graduated to Hawaii since our vacation. 

If you ask her why she likes anything the response is usually “because it’s so beautiful!” 

Clarissa keeps asking for her sister. She doesn’t want a baby. What she really wants is a roommate. She never wants me to leave her room at night. She gets lonely. Mittens always sleeps in her room but she “doesn’t speak human.” 

Her imagination has grown by leaps and bounds lately. She always has some elaborate story about her husband or her baby or fighting the bad guys. Lately, her husband is a dragon and her baby is a wolf pup. 

During the fall, Clarissa kept asking when she was going to be a mom and have a baby. I told her that when she was a grown up, she would get married, and then she and her husband could ask God for a baby. Apparently, she was listening. Now that she plays with baby dolls all the time and calls them her babies, she talks about her husband. At first, it was one boy in particular. But now any little boy will do. When I picked her up from the nursery last week she asked where her husband went. When I asked her who it was, she looked around, pointed at a little boy, and said, “that one!” Tim is thrilled…it is cute to watch them argue about this topic. 

Clarissa often cooks for me as well. Legos are still used several days per week. She is starting to draw more but isn’t as interested in messy art like painting or play doh. She also likes to trace letters and numbers. She is getting pretty good. 

She has a different name each day. If you call her the wrong name she gets upset. 

I think Clarissa is an introvert. She is fine in small groups and often wants to see her friends or go exploring. But if the number gets much higher than 5 or 6, she stays really close to me and stays quiet. She may warm up eventually, but it takes a while. 

Other common things Clarissa says:

Fridge – e-rater (refrigerator) 

I am bad sometimes 

But it hurts my feelings! (whenever you say no to something she wants) 

I am brave! 

My nose isn’t right! (if she has a runny nose) 

My hand is freaking out (if she is scared and her hand shakes) 

I like Jesus. He heals people. 

I need food 

Potty Training Part 2

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Elsa has been dethroned. In our house anyway. Make way for Moana!

I much prefer Moana to Frozen from a parenting standpoint. Moana’s dad isn’t thrilled that she loves the ocean. He tries to tell her it’s dangerous. But he never makes her feel like she is weird or dangerous and he certainly does not try to tell her her gifts/abilities are bad or try to change her. Plus her grandmother keeps encouraging her to be who she really is. I rather enjoy the soundtrack as well.

The movie reminds me of one of my favorite books Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts. I need to read it again to see what gifts I think Clarissa is showing at this point in her life.

I thought I was going to “give up” on potty training for a while several times this fall/winter. But each time I was ready for a break, Clarissa would demand panties in the apartment. She had not been successful outside of the house, so I was planning to stick to pull ups and diapers for our trip to Hawaii.But I packed a few pairs of panties just in case she decided she wanted to wear them.

Thursday morning she saw some panties in the drawer and said, “I want to wear little Eva’s panties!” We received some hand me downs from a friend before they moved last month. It was the first time that Clarissa actually asked to wear panties outside of the house. She was very adamant that she wanted to wear panties instead of diapers that day. She even peed in the potty before we left. She lasted a few hours before having an accident. But she was still pretty excited about panties.

Last week, she wanted to wear panties to PWOC and she successfully kept them dry the entire time we were out of the house (about 8 hours). The next day she told me, “I don’t want to be a big girl today. I’m wearing diapers.”

This week, she has successfully peed in the potty outside of the apartment for three days in a row. Pooping is another story. But I am happy to have met this milestone.

Clarissa says the funniest things

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This kid.

Clarissa is so smart. It is fun to see how her logic develops now that she can explain what she is thinking .

Every day she says things that crack me up.  I don’t want to forget any of it .  While there are “threenager”  moments of pure drama,  I am so glad to be this little girl’s mama.

Some of my favorite Clarissa conversations as of late:

If she doesn’t want to do something she cries or says she can’t do something.  If you ask her why she usually says “because . . . is not my favorite.”

She loves her tricycle.  She wants to bring it outside,  to bathtime,  to bed.  But she is very adamant that it is her “bicycle” and not a tricycle.

She will often ask “is . . .  in this life?” which basically means, “is this real?”  think dinosaurs and things on TV

Clarissa loves “school.”  I have a few things that I am working on at home with her and she calls it her “school books.” I have them in a special place.  But I also have a huge rubbermaid of teacher things that she calls “your school books.”  She can be very adamant that we do my school books as opposed to hers.  So I have had to put the things I want to do with her with my teacher things so she thinks they are “my school books.”

She also says “that’s a tastic idea!” or “that’s NOT a tastic idea”  (fantastic idea)

Clarissa has been able to count to ten for a while.  Now she kind of understands the concept of what the numbers mean,  so her favorite number is 10.  Instead of asking for one more minute or for one of something ,  she now requests demands 10! Ten Cheetos, ten shows, ten new toys . . .

When she counts, she says “one, two, free, I’m free, four, five, six, seben, eight, nine, ten!”

If she does something wrong and I ask her why she did something,  she will respond with “because I did.” She also wants something “because I do.”

She usually has something specific in mind when she asks a question .  For example ,  last week as we were preparing for a family walk she asked me about this sign on the elevator:

The conversation went something like this . 

Clarissa: what does that sign say? 

Me: don’t lean on the elevator 

Clarissa: no it doesn’t 

Me: read the sign in Korean 

Clarissa: no it says don’t smash your boobs! 

She is also pretty obsessed with going to California.  She will sit in her car seat and “fly”  to California.  She climbs on the bench outside and says “all aboard!” to ride the train to California.  All of the neighbor kids are excited about going to California too,  they just don’t know why.  (Dory is from the Jewel of Morro Bay,  California.  So if she goes to California,  she will get to see Dory and Nemo) 

Potty Training part 1

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When we first moved to Korea,  Clarissa was 18 months old and seemed obsessed with watching Tim and I use the bathroom.  I thought she was young but decided to buy a princess potty anyway to see what would happen.

Within a few days she peed and pooped in the potty.  Quite pleased with herself,  she was done and lost interest in the potty for about 9 months.

Then her best friend turned three and started potty training.  Clarissa asked to start potty training but I told her we would wait a few weeks because we were going to Japan for Christmas.  That was a mistake because by the time we returned,  she had completely lost interest.

One of the few times per year I take time to read entire books is when we travel.  I read a few books about potty training on our Japan trip and also on our trip to Seoul.  Most claimed that you can completely potty train your child in 3-5 days.  They lied…

I thought we would try potty training over spring break because we would be home the whole week,  but she really wasn’t interested,  so we stopped.

I was in charge of vacation bible school this summer and the rule has always been that you need to be three years old and potty trained to attend vbs.  She was two weeks shy of 3 for vbs,  but I thought that if we started in June,  that would give us enough time to potty train.  She was pretty good about not having an accident if I made sure she sat on the potty at least once per hour.  It wasn’t until we were both sick and stayed home for an entire week in mid July that she started realizing when she needed to use the potty on her own.

But then we spent two weeks out of the house every day for vbs.  If she is in a diaper,  she will use it.  Smart girl.

August was fairly consistent.  If we were at home,  she would use the potty when she needed to.  But once you put panties or a diaper on her,  she refused the potty.  So that meant that we were potty trained in the apartment only.

We went on vacation to Japan in September.  I figured she would just stick to her diapers.  For the most part she did.  But once per day she would use the potty.  It was always at an interesting time.  I don’t think she used a hotel potty the entire trip (though now that I think about it,  the bidets probably scared her).  She often used the toilet on a moving train.  If it happened to be a squatty,  I just said no.

The rest of September,  she mostly asked for a diaper.  Some mornings,  she wakes up with a dry diaper.  But now we are back to being potty trained in the apartment without panties. She sometimes asks for a diaper when she needs to poop.

I still use cloth diapers when we leave the apartment.  I figure that she will be potty trained when she wants to as she sometimes asks to use the potty when we are out.  It is not worth stressing her out over using the potty. Especially when it doesn’t really add to our budget anyway.